“There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. MindShift Gear’s new Exposure shoulder bags are storm-resistant carrying solutions for the active photographer in virtually any outdoor environment. Built with high performance waterproof sailcloth panels, strategically placed storm flaps, water-repellent DWR fabric, and a sturdy Tarpaulin bottom; the Exposure protects camera gear from the elements and withstands the rigors of adventure photography. And, with its cross-body stabilizer strap, the Exposure moves with you while you’re active or is removable for more causal environments. A waterproof rain cover is included when it’s time to put the camera away and hunker down….”
MindShift Gear Exposure 15
Wide enough for Blackmagic Design’s 7 inch wide Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC 4K)?
Think Tank’s MindShift Gear brand is specially intended for outdoor adventurers who photograph and make movies in all sorts of weather and all kinds of locations, through thick or thin, whether in natural or in my case urban environments.
The game-changing, to use an already overused cliché, BMPCC 4K portable cinema camera does not appear to be weather-resistant so may need transporting in the field in weather-resistant, storm-resistant bags and backpacks along with the equally sensitive equipment needed to make the most of its high end video production capabilities.
Shooting and carrying out initial post-production or DIT (digital imaging technician) duties on BMPCC 4K video footage in the field has certain workflow and hardware demands, and if choosing a shoulder bag rather than backpack then the bag itself should be large enough and protective enough for 15-inch portable computer, SSD or HDD drives and other media, audio recorders and microphones, lenses, color checker or grey card for white balance, small grip items and a portable video tripod as needed.
Accordingly, it would appear that the MindShift Gear 15 may be the best choice of the two MindShift Gear Exposure shoulder bags when using the BMPCC 4K.
At 7 inches wide and with a sloping 5-inch rear touchscreen display, the BMPCC 4K has an unusual shape and size as well as accessory demands, so I will be putting that hypothesis to the test in another article where I look at its actual dimensions as well as an ideal kit of accessories, supplies and lenses for mobile indie documentary work in the field.
“Presenting flowtech™75, a versatile, lightweight tripod that is easier and faster to deploy and adjust than any other tripod….”
This new tripod system from Sachtler, the flowtech 75 fast set-up and fast-strike carbon fibre tripod legs with a choice of fluid heads, has appeared at just the right time.
At present I am re-evaluating all my tripods and camera support options with the goal of slimming my kit down while losing weight and gaining versatility and speed of use with the new generation of rigged and naked cinema and hybrid cameras like Fujifilm’s X-H1, Panasonic’s Lumix DC-GH5, Lumix DC-GH5S and Blackmagic Design’s coming Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.
I currently have two video tripods, a small video travel tripod and a much bigger and heavier Miller video tripod.
I am considering keeping the travel tripod for use when backpacking and selling the Miller tripod in order to buy this exciting new tripod system from Sachtler.
The only question in mind right now is whether the Flowtech 75 can support sliders as well as my Miller currently does.
I have a sentimental attachment to my Miller tripod due to this iconic Australian tripod maker’s Universal wooden-legged fluid head tripod being the very first video tripod I ever used, as a kid shooting my first award-winning short feature film, but emotion must not stand in the way of speed, efficiency and portability.
I have yet to see and try a flowtech 75 out in real life, and am unsure as to which Sachtler tripod head would best suit my needs, whether the Ace XL or the FSB 4, but so far what I have seen and read online is impressive.
Sachter flowtech 75 carbon fibre tripod legs system and related accessories
Sachtler flowtech 75 carbon fibre tripod legs
Sachtler flowtech 75 tripod legs for easy carrying over the shoulder.
“Located at the top of the tripod, the quick release brakes enable the legs to be deployed simultaneously and can quickly adjust to the height that you need and the ground’s surface – eliminating the need to bend over or manually adjust multiple brakes on each leg.”
“flowtech comes with a hinge lock mechanism that gives camera operators ultimate versatility. With the ability to be used with or without a spreader. The hinge lock allows the flowtech 75 to be deployed as low as 26 cm (0.85 ft.) and as high as 153 cm (5.02 ft.) when used without a spreader. This effectively eliminates the need to bring a second set of baby legs to each shoot.”
Sachtler flowtech 75 tripod legs: not one but two sets of spikes.
Rubber feet for Sachtler flowtech 75 carbon fibre tripod legs
Sachtler flowtech 75 carbon fibre tripod legs: goes low or high and can take the place of a hi-hat.
Sachtler ACE XL Tripod System with Slide-In Plate and flowtech 75 Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs
Sachtler Ace XL Fluid Head, 75mm bowl
Sachtler Ace XL Fluid Head, 75mm bowl
Sachtler Ace XL Fluid Head, 75mm bowl
Sachtler Ace XL Fluid Head, 75mm bowl
Sachtler System FSB 4 Fluid Head with Sideload Plate, Flowtech 75 Carbon Fiber Tripod with Mid-Level Spreader and Rubber Feet
Sachtler FSB 4 fluid head
Sachtler Sideload Quck Release (QR) Tripod Plate
Sachtler attachment mount fior Sachtler flowtech 75 carbon fibre tripod
Sachtler Mid-Level Spreader for FlowTech 75
Sachtler Rubber Feet for Flowtech Tripod
Sachtler Dolly for flowtech 75 tripod
Sachtler carry handle for flowtech: “This carry handle is designed as an optional accessory for all available flowtech tripod systems. It allows you to securely carry around your tripod system in one hand and can be easily attached to one of the three flowtech accessory docks”
Sachtler carrying strap for flowtech 75 carbon fibre tripod
Wildly innovative British tripod and tripod accessories maker 3 Legged Thing has updated its website while launching its new QR11 Universal L-Bracket, with the side benefit of making the entire 3 Legged Thing product range more comprehensible via plenty of product shots and descriptions. An unexpected revelation of the new website is the addition of a second pro tripod colourway alongside established bronze and blue Equinox in the form of the more subdued Eclipse.
3 Legged Thing describes its new Eclipse colourway as “metallic slate with subtle hints of British Racing Green”, appealing perhaps to the patriots and Anglophiles in the photographic community but also useful in potentially drawing less unwanted attention to the presence of a tripod-using photographer in places where tripod laws and regulations still reign.
I rather like 3 Legged Thing’s beautifully anodized blue and bronze Equinox colourway and find mostly-grey Eclipse dull by comparison though the copper orange accents shared by each spice up the Eclipse look as much as it does Equinox.
Although I do not own a 3 Legged Thing tripod yet, I was lucky enough to try one out when I began the Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success project and learned firsthand how innovatively designed and carefully manufactured 3 Legged Thing’s products are.
3 Legged Thing’s 3 Professional tripod range – Leo, Albert and Winston
My experiences with the Equinox Leo Carbon Fibre Tripod System & AirHed Light, now updated in the form of the Equinox Leo Kit that includes the Airhed Switch, were so positive that I added the next model up, the Equinox Albert Kit which includes the Airhed 360, to my stills photography wishlist.
In the course of the tryout I discovered that the jewel-like colours and finish of the Equinox Leo drew in and even fascinated portrait sitters so they focussed more on the experience of being before camera and tripod, taking their minds off innate self-consciousness.
I was reminded how the relatively unusual sheet film and 120 roll film cameras I favoured for portraiture during the analog era created a similar fascination in my sitters and concluded that any hardware with that capability had to be a good thing.
Today’s digital cameras are bland-looking things in comparison to those hand-made marvels of optical and mechanical design and engineering to the point where I often blend into the crowd, or the darkness, even when standing right in front of a subject mere centimetres away from their eyes.
A tripod-shaped place in my heart
After almost a lifetime of being a tripod and monopod user when shooting photography and video, I have owned, sold off or lost through theft a great many of them and none has won a special place in my heart apart from the very first, a black Leitz Tiltall exactly the same as one depicted in the first photography book I bought about the work of two female photographers in the United States.
That first tripod of mine was described by its US makers as “The Leica of Tripods” and its high quality design and engineering prompted me to investigate Leica cameras, after which I quickly sold off my Nikons and invested in Leica M-System rangefinder cameras and lenses.
As the demands of my professional work increased, so did the size and weight of the tripods with which I attempted to replace my lost Tiltall.
Not one could have been considered a “micro-traveler” or even a “travel tripod”, terms 3 Legged Thing rightly uses to describe its Leo and Albert, and were more in the league of 3 Legged Thing’s Winston and beyond.
I owned all those many tripods in the days before carbon fibre and portability were considered common standards to aspire to and one British-made tripod in particular, bought for corporate photography assignments in the deserts of Western Australia, presented a real transportation challenge due to its size and weight.
Despite that, it was a stellar performer in the nastiest of conditions and I miss it still when needing a tripod capable of bizarre angles or positioning, or of carrying the heaviest of heavy loads; pity that particular model was discontinued when the company sold itself and the new owners chose to truncate the product range.
The QR11 Universal L-Bracket
3 Legged Thing’s new universal L-Bracket is available to two versions, the Equinox Copper-coloured QR11-LC and the Eclipse Metallic Slate-coloured QR11-LG. Your choice will hinge on how much attention you want to draw and whether you like 3LT’s Copper colour.
Given I am considering buying an Equinox Albert travel tripod for easy carrying to shoot portrait-orientation head-and-shoulders portraits and landscape-orientation environmental portraits, I may well opt for a QR11-LC.
Being about to dip my toes into the multicoloured Equinox colourway, why not go that little bit further with an orange-ish L-Bracket to match the orangeish accents on the Albert?
Until coming across QR11 online, I had never seriously considered a universal L-bracket of any brand. Despite digital cameras of all formats being more similar in their sizes and designs than analog cameras of all formats could ever be, any “universal” accessory must of necessity be a compromise, neither fish nor fowl, good in parts but not perfect in all of them.
I had been leaning towards custom L-Brackets for all my cameras for the obvious reason that each is designed to fit its intended cameras perfectly, allowing full access to the camera’s functions and especially its battery and card compartments.
Then the downside of relying on a range of third party custom accessories marks became apparent, with sudden discontinuation of L-Brackets for still-current cameras, as well as the many variations between third party brands, and their design and manufacturing quality.
Strike that particular accessories maker off the wishlist for L-Brackets and perhaps everything else they make. Unreliability is the last thing one needs in a supplier and makes one wonder whether that particular company is flakey in other ways as well. Their recommended substitute for their now-dead GX8 L-Bracket is pathetic, a simple square Arca-Swiss plate, hardly inspiring confidence.
From what I can tell by looking at 3 Legged Things’ product shots, the QR11 is one of the better-designed universal L-Brackets. I love its two camera strap attachment bars given I have standardized on a Peak Design Clutch and Cuff for every camera I own, only attaching conventional neck or shoulder camera straps when doing the two-camera documentary thing.
Another potentially useful element in the QR11’s design is its 1/4″-20 threaded hole for attaching accessories, making the QR11 a little more like a cage and less of a conventional L-Bracket.
Given the nature of compromise, the QR11 does not work perfectly with every camera in common use nowadays, but the 3LT team has tried out and documented its usability with a range of cameras from makers including Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon and Sony and I hope that they will soon add the results of their tests with current Panasonic cameras like the GX8, GH4 and GH5.
Other essential accessories for your 3 Legged Thing tripod
The 3 Legged Thing product world is built upon the Arca-Swiss quick release system and benefits from a working relationship with Peak Design, as proven by 3LT’s adoption of Peak Design’s square Arca-Swiss camera plate.
3LT makes quick release camera plates other than its square QR4, such as the rectangular QR6 and QR7. I am considering the QR7 with its strap connector and 62mm length as compared to the 38mm of the QR4 that comes with every 3LT tripod.
Many is the time I have put a camera equipped with QR4 or its Peak Design equivalent Standard Plate down upon a flat surface to watch it suddenly tilt over, with dismay at possible dire consequences to camera and lens. Will a longer quick release plate like the QR7 prevent this?
I am planning on converting all my tripods and tripod plates over to the Arca-Swiss system whether they are designed for stills photography or video and have been researching custom and third-party Arca-Swiss clamps. I have yet to make my final decision but 3LT’s two current clamps, the lever-operated Switch Clamp and panoramic 360-Clamp, are possible candidates.
Likewise I like the look of 3LT’s Stilettoz, Heelz and Clawz Footwear solutions for replacing the Bootz rubber feet that come with each 3LT tripod as standard.
I have photography and video tripods and monopods that come equipped with soft rubber or hard plastic feet that can be screwed upwards to reveal short metal spikes. Again, a neither fish nor fowl solution that could be bettered with exchangeable feet designed for each specific surface in varieties of hard or soft as 3 Legged Thing’s Footz have been.
Mould, the ever-present danger
At a certain point in this ongoing global warming aka climate change that out political overlords insist does not exist, mould suddenly appeared throughout apartments and houses in suburbs that had never experienced it before.
Mould infestations were formerly only the thing of inner city terrace houses with poor ventilation, tiny windows, no insulation, and little to no heating or cooling.
Cameras and lenses hate mould and so do I. Certain plastics and almost all leathers attract mould which embeds its spores into them then sprouts pale grey powder onto the outer surfaces. It is the simplest thing to accidentally transfer the powder onto your equipment then watch in horror as mould invades its insides and outsides.
I implore the 3 Legged Thing team to look into their plastics for process to mould infestation and replace them with anti-mould alternatives.
Future 3 Legged Thing products
The updated 3 Legged Thing website has helped me better understand their product range and many items in it go together. It has boosted my interest in them as a brand and, from my time with an Equinox Pro Leo & Airhed Light Kit, one clearly capable of coming with uniquely creative and innovative hardware.
The folks at 3LT have hinted that more products are on the horizon and have not denied one persistent rumour, that a video tripod may be one of them.
I have two very good video tripods at the moment, one large and one small that is designed for travel. Both are far from what I really need, so I am looking forward to seeing what 3 Legged Thing comes up with.